The Life 100 Years Ago project is open to anyone to participate in – including school students.
Contributing to the project
Consider using one of the primary sources nominated under Join In, a source from one of your students’ families, or work with your local museum, library or archive.
It’s possible to participate for a week or Term only – you don’t have to commit to a full year, and you can join at any time if you have a 100-year-old source for that time period.
The project started in 2013 (1913) and is anticipated to last through the First World War years until 2019 (1919) – pending resourcing.
Variations on this project
You could do something similar to this project, but not actually participate. Here are a few ideas:
- Have students independently keep diaries (such as a blog or private diaries) for a particular time period. Now imagine you are reading the diary 100 years in the future. What do you learn from reading the diaries (both individually, and together)? What is missing? How do different people record and respond to the same events (such as attending class)?
- Choose a day in history. Record everything that happens on the day today (if you have a class Twitter account, you could tweet more ‘diary-style’ entries). Then read the excerpts from that day from the Life 100 Years Ago website. How are these people the same as us? How are they different? What might account for these differences and similarities?
- Choose a day in history. Research what happened on that day using primary sources and secondary sources. Consider the differences between primary and secondary sources for understanding a day (or other time period) in history.
- 'Past/present/future'. Consider the Tweets from 100 Years Ago on a given day, what you would Tweet in the present, and what people 100 years from now might be Tweeting about. What is the same throughout time? What changes?
- Imaginary reconstructions: Have students identify local personalities – or famous figures – alive 100 years ago (perhaps ones from your local war memorial). Research everything you can find out about them and where they went (a list of useful websites for researching service personnel is provided here), and produce imaginary tweets or Facebook posts for them. You could select some particular topics or events for them to respond to from different perspectives. You could use the website timeline as a template. There are also tools such as ‘Fakebook’ that can be used for this purpose.
- Use some of the quotes presented on the website or the full diary entries they link to as ‘sources of inspiration’ for other creative projects, including historical re-enactments.
- Have students identify a source (such as a diary) and digitise it for delivery using a given technology platform – potentially for someone else to Tweet if they don’t do it themselves.
- What would Maud Tweet? If you follow Leslie Adkin you will know that he is courting Maud Herd. We don't have her side of the story. If she could Tweet as well, what would she say?
This project potentially touches on all of the Key Competency areas.
For example, if you choose to participate as a class group (i.e. run a Twitter feed together – or some other version of selecting quotes for sharing):
Which excerpts from the diary will be selected? How will these fit into under 140 characters? What do we learn and understand about the diarist (and their world, values and experiences) from their diary? What is not talked about? What are the implications of taking a private source and making it public?
Using language, symbols and texts
De-coding handwriting is no easy feat! How does the language of the diaries differ from language we use today? How are these diaries and the way they are written different from contemporary communication methods such as blogs, Facebook posts, text messages and tweets? For example, Twitter is more immediate – we typically just write statements ‘off the cuff’ and are encouraged not to say ‘had eggs for breakfast’. Personal diaries don’t necessarily follow the same conventions as they are private.
How will the students organise themselves (and others) to contribute? When do the tweets need to be selected by? Who will post them? Who will review the selections? How will they connect up to the project?
Relating to others
How will the students work together to participate in this project? Working with a local museum, library or archive also develops relationship skills.
Participating and contributing
By participating in this project, the students will join a community of contributors – it’s as much about the individual feed as it is about contributing to a shared timeline of history (and taking responsibility for your individual part in a shared story-line).
Alignment with the NZ Curriculum: Achievement Objectives by Learning Area
The project will become more relevant for study as time goes on and we are able to track a diarist’s response to the First World War across several years.
- Level 1: Understand how the past is important to people; Understand how places in New Zealand are significant for individuals and groups; Understand how the cultures of people in New Zealand are expressed in their daily lives.
- Level 2: Understand how time and change affect people’s lives.
- Level 3: Understand how people remember and record the past in different ways.
- Level 4: Understand that events have causes and effects.
- Level 5: Understand how the ideas and actions of people in the past have had a significant impact on people’s lives.
- Level 6: Particularly History, e.g. Understand how people’s perspectives on past events that are of significance to New Zealanders differ.
- Level 7: Particularly History, e.g. Understand how people’s interpretations of events that are of significance to New Zealanders differ.
- Level 8: Particularly History, e.g. Understand how trends over time reflect social, economic, and political forces.
- Levels 1-8
Particularly Nature of Technology, but also study the project overall as an example of Technological Practice. Note also the study of the diary 'as' technology.
- Levels 2-8
WW1 Tweets from 1941 (https://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII) - another inspiring 'real-time history' project
Help us out
If you do generate a learning exercise around this project, please let us know by email – we’d love to share it with others. Feedback is also welcome.